What Is An Ombuds?

The Ombuds is a person who serves as an impartial, independent, informal, and confidential conflict management resource to help resolve complaints, misunderstandings and conflicts which stem from University policies, procedures, practices, and relationships. The Office of the Ombuds is a safe place to go where concerns can be discussed confidentially and informally in an "off-the-record" fashion.

The Ombuds adheres to the Code of Ethics, the Standards of Practice, and the Best Practices of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) in providing services to visitors. In sum, the four key principles governing the practice of the Ombuds are:

  • Impartiality: The Ombuds advocates for fairness in the procedures, not for the person.
  • Independence: The Ombuds is independent of any University structure, and contacting the Ombuds does not constitute notice to the University.
  • Informality: The Ombuds does not replace or duplicate any available formal process on campus. The Ombuds can only provide informal advice and assistance.
  • Confidentiality: The Ombuds can not disclose the identity of her visitors except when there is an imminent risk of serious harm.

The Ombuds hosts an annual event to celebrate International Conflict Resolution Day which falls on the third Thursday of October each year.

  • In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance specialist with the District of Columbia Office of Disability Rights was invited to speak about turning conflicts into opportunities.
  • In 2009, five students were invited to participate in a panel to discuss personal and professional experiences with critical conflicts and effective resolution strategies. See the event flyer for more information. Click on the link to see a photo of the event.
  • In 2010, the students of GSR 241 .05 "Conflict and Peacemaking: International Perspectives" provided exhibits, presentations, and a panel discussion. The Ombuds sponsored refreshments for this event.
  • In 2011, five students participated in a panel to address bullying and academic and personal incivility. See for the event flyer for more information.
  • In 2012, the Office of the Ombuds co-hosted with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion a student-led campus discussion on "safe spaces." See the event flyer for more information.

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